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Back-to-back homers cap comeback

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The New York Yankees took advantage of 14
walks, then capped their latest comeback victory with a couple of
strolls around the bases.

Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui hit consecutive homers in the
ninth inning, and the Yankees rallied from a four-run deficit to
beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-7 Sunday.

New York trailed 6-2 in the fifth inning before escaping with
its seventh win in eight games. The Yankees (90-53) took two of
three from the Orioles to capture the season series 14-5 and move a
season-high 37 games over .500.

"It was an ugly baseball game," Sheffield said, "but those
are the kind of games you want to win because it lifts your
ballclub and it takes the wind out of the other club."

New York lengthened its lead in the AL East to 3½ games over
Boston, which lost to Seattle 2-0.

It was the club-record ninth time this season that New York
rallied from a deficit of four runs or more to win. It's the most
four-run comebacks in the majors since Colorado had 10 in 2001,
according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Yankees, who did not stage a rally of that nature all last
year, won despite stranding 17 runners and going 0-for-5 with the
bases loaded.

"I think with this lineup, you never really feel like you're
completely out of it," said John Olerud, who walked twice. "It's
a good feeling."

New York had not walked 14 times in a game since May 14, 1980,
against Kansas City.

"You know they're going to do enough hitting, so anytime you
help a team like that with a bunch of walks it's not going to lead
to anything good," said Baltimore's Larry Bigbie, who went
4-for-4.

"You can't do that against any team," Orioles manager Lee
Mazzilli said.

With the score 7-all, Sheffield hit his 34th home run of the
season leading off the ninth against Jorge Julio (2-5).

"He hung a slider and I just reacted to it," Sheffield said.

"Sheff, in a situation where everybody goes up there thinking
they want to hit a home run, seems to manage to do it," Yankees
manager Joe Torre said. "He seems to have a knack of composing
himself and just having to focus like nobody else does."

Four pitches later, Matsui sent a drive far over the
center-field wall.

Tom Gordon (7-4) got four outs and Mariano Rivera worked the
ninth for his major-league leading 48th save in 51 chances.

David Newhan had three RBI for the Orioles, who used 10
pitchers, a major league record for a nine-inning game. Starter
Daniel Cabrera gave up two runs, two hits and a career-high tying
six walks before being yanked in the second inning.

"I tried to throw strikes, but all my balls were high. I don't
know why," the rookie said. "Maybe I tried to throw too hard."

New York began its comeback with a fifth-inning run against Rick
Bauer. After Miguel Cairo hit an RBI single, Olerud was tagged out
at the plate trying to score on a wild pitch.

But the Yankees batted around in the sixth and scored three runs
off Dave Borkowski to tie it at 6. After Alex Rodriguez doubled in
two runs and Sheffield followed an RBI single, New York missed a
chance to take the lead after loading the bases with one out.

The Yankees took care of that matter in the seventh against
Jason Grimsley, who issued three walks and threw two wild pitches.
The lone hit against him was a leadoff single by Kenny Lofton, who
scored on a sacrifice fly by Sheffield.

A two-out RBI single by Javy Lopez tied it in the bottom half
against Paul Quantrill.

But New York won it anyway, as was usually the case this season
against Baltimore.

"They had our number," Bigbie conceded. "We played them
tough, but they're one of the teams that put the pressure on your
offense. You know three or four runs won't be enough."

The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the first without benefit of a
hit. Cabrera walked leadoff hitter Derek Jeter, then got two outs
before walking three straight, including Ruben Sierra with the
bases loaded.

Baltimore answered with two unearned runs in the bottom half.
After Rodriguez dropped a soft liner to third, Melvin Mora doubled
and Rafael Palmeiro lined a two-out double off the right-field
scoreboard.

After Matsui drew a bases loaded walk in the second, Baltimore
took a 4-2 lead in the home half on a two-out, two-run single by
Newhan, who also singled in a run in a two-run fourth that made it
6-2.

Game notes
All three games of the series were sellouts, giving
Baltimore eight this season. ... New York has batted around 30
times this season. ... Jeter hit .367 against the Orioles, and half
his RBI this season (35 of 70) are against Baltimore and Tampa
Bay.